Russian abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky believed color was a way of directly influencing the soul, that art was capable of connecting the artist’s vision to the viewer’s emotions.
His 1913 famous painting, Farbstudie Quadrate, also known as Squares with Concentric Circles, will be the inspiration at an interactive exhibition Thursday in which community members can produce art meant to touch the souls of refugees and asylum seekers resettling in the Toledo area.
“People from Toledo will be making a welcoming gift, and it’s a way for them to make a house feel like a home, when some have been displaced for so long,” said Kate Philabaum, director of HeART Gallery, an art space housed in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
During a luncheon Thursday in the gallery, as well as during the monthly Art Loop Thursday night, residents can create individual Kandinsky-style dot boards using oil pastels on 8-by-8-inch black paper that will be framed into larger pieces for refugee families. While there, they can enjoy an exhibition of work by about 20 local artists who are offering the pieces to the effort as well.
WHAT: Lunch & Learn program and Art Loop Gala
WHO: Midwest HeArt and US Together Toledo fund-raiser
WHEN: 12-1 p.m., Lunch & Learn; 6-9 p.m., Gala
WHERE: HeART Gallery (St. Paul’s Lutheran Church), 428 N. Erie St.
All of the donated pieces will be part of a dinner event at the gallery Feb. 9 where recently resettled refugees will be invited to dine, socialize, and choose a ceramic piece of artwork or framed painting to hang in their new home.
The gallery is the venue for the collaboration between Midwest HeArt, a nonprofit made up of local artists committed to collecting and donating art, and providing creative experiences for refugees, and US Together Toledo, a refugee resettlement agency.
“We are solely about welcoming refugees, but with what we know,” said Liz Mohler, a local artist and president of Midwest HeArt. “Our mission is dedicated to welcoming refugees and asylees through the universal language of art. We can do a lot with that mission.”
Ms. Mohler said an inaugural fund-raising event in January was successful, with about 50 refugee families attending and going home with art. The organization would like to raise enough money to offer art classes to families, host the exhibition annually, and organize other art-related events.
This year, local artists including Matt Taylor (aka Mr. Taylor of Love Wall fame), Jessica Mack, Barbie Huffman (the founder of Midwest HeArt), Jeff Beach, Tom Gelsanliter, and Reem Barakat gave art pieces to the effort.
At Thursday’s luncheon, retired Washington Local Schools art teacher Jeri Madsen will talk about Mr. Kandinsky’s art and help guests create. Thursday night, Art Loop goers can listen to musician Lucian Townes, eat and drink, and participate in raffles as they create. All of the events are free and open to the public.
Ms. Mohler said experiences of her mother, who fled the Philippines at the age of 19 to escape a climate of violence and drugs, has influenced her beliefs. She said her mother, then-Remedios Antor and now Jane Anderson, talks little about her harrowing experiences in her native country, but has spoken of her brother being killed in front of the family over drug issues.
“I hold this effort close to my heart. When Barbie [Huffman] introduced this idea, I jumped in,” she said.
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